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Featured Can someone with Aspergers be good at reading people?

Discussion in 'Friends, Family & Social Skills' started by MayBerry, Oct 22, 2020.

  1. MayBerry

    MayBerry Active Member

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    Everything I have heard or read about Autism/Aspergers tells me there's "one" symptom that is universal: the inability to understand social norms, emotional reactions and body language/expressions.

    I'm not sure how to phrase the questions properly without writing a wall of text, so please ask if you're confused about what I mean.

    Is it possible for a person with Aspergers to have behavioral analysis as an interest? To be better than most neurotypical people in reading and predicting behavior and feelings? Excelling in professions like psychiatry, for instance?
     
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  2. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Interesting question. Possible for any of us? Certainly. Probable? Maybe not.

    Ian Terry from CBS' "Big Brother" might make that claim. After all, he is on the spectrum and managed to win in season 14 in 2012. IMO you can't win that game without having some ability to read people.

    And to think I said many times earlier that I didn't think an autistic person could ever win such a game so dependent on social dynamics. Glad Ian proved me wrong. Though you could never get me to even consider applying to such a spectacle. Interesting as well that the production's screening process must have never considered his being on the spectrum the first time around.

    In this year's season Ian was one of the houseguests invited back for the "All Stars" game, where while he mentioned his stimming, he publicly told other houseguests that he was on the spectrum. Though he was evicted this time around with no chance to win the game.

    Ian Terry - Wikipedia
     
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  3. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Maybe some of us can read others and then we fall into highly functioning level. But l doubt we do it 24/7 due the nature of our particular beast. We flatten and bottom out and need down time no matter what. My skills go out the window sometimes, and l mask my way thru with nobody the wiser.
     
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  4. MayBerry

    MayBerry Active Member

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    The reason I'm asking is because I feel like I fit every other "criteria," but I am extremely good at reading people and figuring out how they work, why they think the way they do, etc. To the point of some people being unnerved by it.

    I was diagnosed at 24 with avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive compulsive personality. I had been seeing a psychiatrist for 10 years at that point due to anxiety/depression/eating disorder, and he was not eager to diagnose me, but I needed one to qualify for the benefits I was entitled to. Those 3 were the closest he could get, because I'm a difficult case. I asked him about Asperger's once, and he said he had never thought of me in connection to that. I wasn't "weird" enough.

    I was satisfied with my diagnosis even though they didn't cover some of my biggest issues. But yesterday I was doing some research on ADHD for a family member, and I watched a video about the differences between ADHD and Autism. I just started crying for no reason, then I realized it was because the Autism parts were so powerful to hear.



    Please skip if you don't want to hear about my symptoms:

    I can't stand small talk; I'm bored by it, and I never remember to ask people questions in return. It triggers my anxiety just thinking about it.

    I've always been different. My honesty about myself and my issues, as well as my tolerance of other people, seems to make everyone trust me with their problems and use me as their personal hobby-psychiatrist. When they do, I get really interested and it's as if I take a step back and distance myself from the emotional side somehow. I'm also extremely empathetic and cry easily when I see people suffer, except when I analyze them.

    My life goes in 6-9 month cycles. I eat the same 3 things every single day, and after months I get bored and change out one of them, which I then eat for the next 6 months. I play video games for almost a year, then stop completely and crochet for the next 6 months, before I go on to the next of my handful of hobbies. When I'm focused on a hobby, I tend to spend most of my waking hours on it. I'm disabled and live alone (with assistance), so I don't have anything disturbing me.

    If I spend a lot of time with someone for a while, I eventually crash and completely cut them out of my life for several months. Maybe a text message here and there, and I have learned to tell them that I have crashed, but it takes extraordinary amounts of energy to even read their messages to me.


    If you actually read that, thank you very much!
     
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  5. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    It's okay. Everyone here is very supportive. It's okay to talk about your feelings. The covid issue brought some things to the surface and we all are examining everything a little closer now.
     
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  6. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    Well, technically, the DSM says nothing about reading people so it isn't clinically relevant, right?

    If you mean other than that, I'd say it's possible.

    I'm jealous though. You get some awesomeness of autism yet still get the magic powers of the NT? :eek:
     
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  7. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Obsessions help a great deal, because when I discovered aspergers, I became obsessed with it and that brought to the front reading people and I thought I was very good ie learnt, rather than natural, because as a child, I could not read people's expression and often was chided by my younger sister for this.

    However, I soon realised that I MISINTERPRET facial expressions, but am so convinced, that it is hard for me to believe the person that their expression meant something else.

    But from not being able to read even subtle changes in an expression, I am too sensitive to it now, when I am able to hold eye to eye contact.

    Just to add that when I was seeing a neuro therapist, I was tested on emotions. Had pictures of people with different expressions and I thought I did pretty well in interpreting it right, but was told that it was the opposite. I did ok with obvious expressions, but really fell with subtle ones.
     
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  8. MayBerry

    MayBerry Active Member

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    My mother and sister are also excellent at reading people (far above average), so I don't know if that can be the reason. A mixture of nature and nurture?
     
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  9. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    I'm inclined to think it's a trait that for the most part, spans the neurological spectrum in general.

    In my own case I'm inclined to think that more often than not it depends on any number of circumstances relative to a single social interaction. But in personal relationships, that's where I probably fail the easiest in terms of reading a lover or a friend.

    I do better in social dynamics involving corporate culture and transactions. So it's a little of both for me.
     
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  10. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    Yes, I think it's possible to be on the spectrum and be able to read people. It's not uncommon for autistic people to become psychiatrists because they want to study people to understand them better. But the understanding comes through studying, or trial and error, rather than intuitive understanding.

    Some autistic people claim to be sensitive to people's mood, meaning that they are able to pick up easily on a bad vibe, for example. However, they might not be able to understand the reason for the bad vibe or a person's mood, reaction or emotion.

    The one thing that I see that is common to people on the spectrum, is difficulty in processing information, and socialising demands a lot of processing power from the brain, so we lag behind. We don't pick up on things going on, not so much through an inability to read, but rather through and inability to process in real time. In social situations, especially social groups we feel disconnected, cut off or separate, not able to easily integrate into the group.
     
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  11. Kit

    Kit Well-Known Member

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    There is also such thing as reading people wrong. Someone gets upset when you do something and you mistake it as them being mad at you. Or someone is frustrated and focusing and you interrupt them and you misinterpret their actions as hostile and them being angry at you.
     
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  12. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    This is true. I used to think I was ok at reading people when I was younger and undiagnosed, but often misinterpreted people and had problems through this. Now I realise that I'm not nearly as good at it as I imagined.
     
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  13. MayBerry

    MayBerry Active Member

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    I am confident that I'm not reading things wrong due to the feedback and comments I have gotten from people. I sometimes have trouble stopping myself from speaking even when I realize they're not interested, though. The times I'm susceptible to reading people wrong is if I'm anxious, and I'm aware of that.

    I'm not sure if I had the skill as a child, or if I started developing it as a teenager. When my anxiety and depression surfaced, I spent a lot of time analyzing myself and reading about mental health and behavior.


    Part of me feels like I'm trying too hard to "fit" the Asperger's symptoms since I'm lacking the big one, but I wasn't looking for answers in the first place. It just hit me in the face and made me cry. Wouldn't it be nice if there was an easy answer to these things?
     
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  14. MayBerry

    MayBerry Active Member

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    I don't know if it's relevant, but my dad has so many typical Autistic traits that I would bet everything I own that he has Asperger's.
     
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  15. Bolletje

    Bolletje Overly complicated potato V.I.P Member

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    I’m pretty good at reading people.
     
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  16. MayBerry

    MayBerry Active Member

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    Would you be okay with telling me more about that? Have you always had that skill? Are you good at predicting behavior too? Does is come naturally, or do have to "force" yourself to do it?
     
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  17. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to guess a lifetime spent observing others in an effort to emulate and 'fit in' will fine tune observation skills.

    Over time, patterns and repetition will be obvious based on events.
    - How a majority conduct themselves at a funeral, a party, a wedding, a lecture, business meetings, whilst shopping and queuing?
    What grief, despair, joy, pride, determination look & sound like - (look & sound like, NOT feel like)
    The list is endless.

    Add to that a store of knowledge on mental health classifications and behavioural drives and I'd imagine a person could start to recognise 'types'?
    Introvert, anxious, extrovert, traits of varying conditions?

    Non of which will be obvious unless one is actively looking for it.

    I think an exception to this is survival. By which I mean the child that grew up in less than ideal conditions and had to learn how to please a/their parents, or at least, not anger them.

    I suspect they'll take unconscious markers into adulthood in that they'll know when another is getting frustrated, angry etc, but aren't quite sure HOW they know.
     
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  18. WildCat

    WildCat V.I.P Member

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    If you're willing to step outside your comfort zone, yeah. Despite what literature says and stereotypes, people can compensate for their shortcomings. Across the board too, it's not just people on the spectrum.

    It doesn't mean you've "recovered" from anything, you've just worked hard at something that doesn't come naturally to you by using your strengths to compensate for your weaknesses.
     
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  19. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'm quite good at reading people in real life circumstances. In my childhood, I had the ability to figure out what would happen if I walked into a room of family members, who was upset, who was not. It was more of a self-protective ability, in that there were a lot of volatile egos. Later it helped me navigate school and the working world.

    I've been wrong about the nature of some people, who are substance users, they are difficult if not impossible to read. Their moods and nature fluctuate so quickly that's it's a guess on my part as to their state of mind.

    When you read about autistic traits, keep in mind that almost all of the studies/research were done on males and a few studies on low-functioning children. Those early studies are what the DSM bases it criteria for diagnosis on.

    Females tend to be diagnosed with other illnesses such as ADHD, OCD, anorexia (it's been implied that females with anorexia are all autistic), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, but because of the way these sometimes co-morbid conditions manifest, the associated condition of autism is usually not considered in females. It has much to do with the way in which females are socialized early on, we learn eye contact, we learn social skills. We observe people for our own interests and protection.

    If I were you, wherever you are in the world, I would find an actual autism specialist. Not an older professional, who bases their diagnoses in the old DSM. Someone who is knowledgeable of autism in people and has actually worked with them. Difficult I realize, but a referral to someone who understands the difficulties of this condition.
     
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  20. Finder

    Finder Member

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    Any skill can be learnt. ASD comes about because the intuitive ability to read social cues and communicate is not there. But people with ASD compensate through masking. And there are psychologist with ASD.
     
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